Professor Matthew Schaefer

Matthew Schaefer Clayton Yeutter Chair and Professor of Law

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Matthew Schaefer is the Clayton Yeutter Chair at the University of Nebraska College of Law and Yeutter Institute for International Trade and Finance.  Upon being name Yeutter Chair in January 2022, Professor Schaefer stated:  “I am very honored to be named the Yeutter Chair and continue to work with my remarkable colleagues to continue to grow the Yeutter Institute’s already significant reach in programming for students and stakeholders, and in research.  Clayton Yeutter’s outstanding government service was integral to the formation of the most important international trade agreements and institutions.  Indeed, Ambassador Yeutter’s efforts were highlighted in the opening sentence of my first international trade law course in law school taught by the esteemed Professor John H. Jackson.   I have admired Ambassador Yeutter ever since as a student, trade consultant, government official and faculty member.”

Professor Schaefer has two articles being published in the Fall 2023/Spring 2024 related to international trade agreements: Self-Executing International Agreements and Private Rights of Action: Revisiting the 4th Restatement of Foreign Relations Law in the Context of International Trade and Investment Agreements, forthcoming in Univ. of Pennsylvania J. Intl. L. (2023/24) and  Gene-Edited Crops and Food & the Bold Path Forward in U.S. Trade Agreement, forthcoming North Carolina J. Intl. L. (2023/24).   A version of the latter article was also shared with the US Dept. of Agriculture as part of a grant research sponsored by the USDA.

From 2016-2021, he served as the Veronica A. Haggart and Charles R. Work Professor of International Trade Law.  From 2006-2021 he served as the Founding Director, and subsequently Founding Co-Director of the Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program.  He has over two decades of law teaching experience and has taught courses in international trade law, international business transactions, international law, foreign relations law and policy, introduction to the American legal system, space law, and cyber law. In 2012, he led efforts to have the Law College adopt a required first-year course in international law for all J.D. students, and currently teaches a section of the course after co-teaching a combined course to all 1Ls with Professor Lepard for the seven years. Combined with his required upper-level course in international law for LL.M. students, most University of Nebraska students obtaining a J.D. or LL.M. degree are taught the basics of international law, and the intersection of international law with the US legal system, by Professor Schaefer.

During the 1999 calendar year, Professor Schaefer served as a director in the International Economic Affairs Office of the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House. He was the principal staff member responsible for the formulation, coordination, and implementation of U.S. foreign policy as it relates to international economic issues. In his role as a director, he prepared senior NSC officials for meetings with the President of the United States and foreign dignitaries and attended numerous NSC senior staff meetings, briefed the President of the United States in advance of EU-US Summits, and assisted in the development of international trade policy recommendations, including exempting food and medicine from US sanctions regimes, and seeking resolution of major trade disputes with the European Union.

Professor Schaefer joined Professors Folsom, Van Alstine, and Ramsey as a co-author on the 13th ed. of International Business Transactions: A Problem-Oriented Coursebook (2019, West Publishing), one of the best-selling coursebooks in the area.  He is integrally involved in the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance and conducted research with colleagues in the Agricultural Economics Dept. on high-technology agricultural products and international trade rules.  During the Fall 2019 semester, Professor Schaefer gave a primer on international trade along with a colleague in the Business College at the Yeutter Trade Conference, “What’s on the Horizon for International Trade?” that had over 200 registrants.  He also organized another international trade law conference in the Fall of 2019 that featured his coursebook co-authors as presenters and his Yeutter Institute colleagues as inter-disciplinary commentators as well as a keynote by former U.S. Sen. David Karnes.  Professor Schaefer has also presented on international trade issues to both the Kutak Rock Agribusiness Seminar and a Law College/College of Business CLE Power Lunch together with Yeutter Institute Director Jill O’Donnell.  Professor Schaefer also has consulted with lawyers and industry on strategies in response to recent tariffs imposed on steel, aluminum, and products from China, as well as NAFTA/USMCA rules of origin.

Professor Schaefer also was the lead person at the Law College in administering an international trade policy, economics, and law-related program in during 2012 and 2013 under a Clayton Yeutter International Trade grant through the US Department of Commerce. The programming included several distinguished international trade law lectures and seminars by visiting distinguished lecturers, including former director of the WTO legal division William Davey, Chair of Sidley and Austin’s DC international trade practice group Andy Shoyer, and Vice-President of Rock Creek Global Advisors Michael Smart.  In the Spring of 2014, Professor Schaefer, with the research assistance of 2L Yeutter Scholar Samantha Ritter, drafted a US Supreme Court amicus brief, arguing that the Court should change the “apply anew” standard of review utilized by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to review trade remedy decisions of the Court of International Trade.  The brief was signed by professors of international trade law at NYU, George Washington University, American University, Columbia University and the University of Illinois. 

In February 2006, Professor Schaefer was named inaugural Director of the space law initiative and subsequently became the founding director of the USA's first degree-bearing Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program.  He continued as director of the program for over a decade until becoming co-director in 2016-17 along with his colleague Gus Hurwtiz and Professor Schaefer currently serves as Founding co-director, along with fellow co-directors Hurwitz and Beard.  He was integrally involved in gaining University and external approval for the LLM degree (in 2006-07), developing the curriculum, hiring permanent faculty and adjunct faculty for the program, creating the Advisory Board and Alumni Council for the program, gaining University and external approval for the online version of the LLM degree (in 2011), and starting training sessions in the field for the STRATCOM Leadership Fellows.  He is the principal organizer of the program’s annual conferences in Washington, D.C (12 thus far) that now exceed 200 registrants each year.   He also organized the first eight annual Lincoln, NE conferences and has also organized regional conferences on space and cyber law in Omaha (in conjunction with US Strategic Command’s Space and Cyber Symposium), San Diego, CA and Ann Arbor, MI. He was the principle investigator (PI) responsible for administering a $1.71 million NASA grant from 2008-2011 that helped launch the program and co-PI on a $250,000 NASA grant in 2018-2019 to strengthen and diversify the nationwide space law network.

Professor Schaefer is a frequent speaker on current topics in space law across the country, including at the University of Michigan Law School, Fordham Law School, Columbia Law School, New York University Law School, University of California-Irvine Law School, University of Southern California Law School, Emory University Law School, and University of Florida Law School.  Professor Schaefer has moderated, presented and/or participated on panels at eight major national or international conferences - the IAA Heads of Space Agency Summit, AIAA Space, the National Space Symposium, ABILA International Law Weekend, IISL Eileen Galloway Symposium, Annual UNL DC Space Law Conference, Newspace conference, and International Astronautical Congress.  He taught what is believed to be the first combined course in space and cyber law at a US law school during the Summer of 2012 at the University of San Diego law school and taught a course in commercial space law at Washington University Law School in St. Louis (2014), the University of Miami (2015, 2019, 2020)., and California-Irvine School of Law (2017).  He has presented on space law topics internationally, including at the European Center for Space Law in Paris, and the Annual Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space sponsored by the International Institute of Space Law (in Glasgow, Scotland, Naples, Italy, Toronto, Canada, and most recently in Washington, D.C.).

Space law is one major thread of Professor Schaefer’s scholarship. His white papers on commercial space issues have circulated among Congress, the White House, NASA, as well industry.  The U.S. Congress adopted two central recommendations from Professor Schaefer’s article on commercial space liability issues published in the Berkeley J. of International Law in Public Law 114-90 (signed into law Nov. 2015), namely including space flight participants in the federal cross-waiver and making a long-term promise of government indemnification of 3rd party liability exceeding insured amounts.  His most recent space law article titled “The Contours of Permissionless Innovation in the Outer Space Domain,” in the Univ. of Penn. Journal of International Law, has influenced the debate over how the U.S. Congress should cure the on-orbit regulatory gap for new space activities with several of his recommendations finding reflection in congressional bills.  Professor Schaefer testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s Space Subcommittee on May 23, 2017, regarding the recommendations in his article.  His shorter article on space debris presented to the IISL in Naples in 2012 drew interest from the Japanese Space Agency and NASA. Professor Schaefer has appeared on FOX News (national) TV and been quoted in, the New Scientist, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post on commercial space law topics.

Professor Schaefer is a graduate of the University of Chicago (B.A.) and the University of Michigan Law School (J.D. magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, L.L.M. in international law, S.J.D.). During his law studies, he received the William W. Bishop, Jr. Award for performance with distinction in the field of international law and served an externship at the U.S. State Department-Office of the Legal Advisor. He studied at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia under a Ford Foundation Fellowship. Professor Schaefer is a former term-member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Academic Outreach Advisory Board. He previously served on the board of editors of the Journal of International Economic Law, and served previously on the advisory board of the Canada-U.S. Law Institute. In his role as co-chair of the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) Space Law Committee, he organized, moderated, and presented at panel sessions the past seven years at the ABILA International Law Weekend and regional ABILA conferences. Professor Schaefer is also member of space law committee of International Law Association as well as a member of the International Institute of Space Law.

Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Schaefer served as an international trade consultant to the National Governors' Association and Western Governors' Association in Washington, D.C. during the legislative implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and GATT Uruguay Round multilateral trade agreement. He has also served as a consultant to two members of the European parliament in Brussels, Belgium and the states of Hawaii, Texas, and Utah. The other major thread of Professor Schaefer’s scholarship focuses on the inter-relationship between federalism and international and foreign relations law as well as international trade agreements.  His most recent article in this arena is “Constraints on State-Level Foreign Policy: (Re)Justifying, Refining, and Distinguishing the Dormant Foreign Affairs Doctrine,” 41 Seton Hall L. Rev. 201-318 (2011), one of the longest published law review article of the year.  He also published Promoting Commodity Exports Through Governor-Led Trade Missions: Governors’ Constitutionally Permissible (and WTO Permissible) Role of Exporter-in-Chief,” in the Annual Proceedings of the American Society of International Law (2012).  Professor Schaefer previously blogged on space law matters at, and many of those blog posts are still relevant to debates occurring today on space law matters, such as on-orbit jurisdiction and property rights.

Professor Schaefer has supervised numerous externships and independent studies of law students, including at the House Science Committee, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Nebraska Dept. of Agriculture, and US Strategic Command.



American Foreign Affairs Law & Policy Seminar Law 750 (3 cr hr)
This seminar will explore structural/organizational issues (e.g., separation of powers, federalism) related to U.S. foreign policy-making as well as U.S. foreign policy in a number of substantive areas. Areas of foreign policy examined include the war on terrorism, international economic policy, and current foreign policy crises. This course is available to online LLM students.

International Business Transactions Law 673 (3 cr hr)
This course covers both private and public (government regulation) aspects of international business transactions. Specific topics covered include international sales contracts and the Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG), regulation of foreign investment and Bilateral Investment Treaties, (BITs), private international dispute resolution (including choice of forum and choice of law clauses, international commercial arbitration, and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards), US customs law, responses to fairly and unfairly traded imports, and international bribery and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The casebook used is a problem-oriented one supplemented with additional mock exercises. Students will learn the law governing the particular problem the first class of each week, and then apply the law to the facts of the problem in the subsequent class(es) that week. This course is available to online LLM students.

International Law Law 640 (3 cr hr)
This course is intended to build upon and expand students understanding of international and transnational law garnered in the mandatory 1L course. It first examines applicable law for real-world problems looking at national (including federal and state), international (including treaty and customary international law), and private (e.g. corporate codes of conduct) rules. It next examines methods of resolving transnational disputes both at the national and international levels. Finally, it looks at how decisions can be enforced at both the national and international levels. Several mock exercises have students involved in international negotiations, litigation, and interagency meetings. The course also spends a week critically examining recent international law cases within the US Supreme Court. This course is available to online LL.M. students.

International Trade Law Law 671/G (1-4 cr hr)
Students who have taken LAW 668G may not enroll in this course. This class may be taught in alternate years with International Trade and Transactions. Central theme of this field of law is the tension between generally accepted economic theories which support free trade as a means of increasing economic efficiency and raising standards of living for all trading partners, and the non-economic objectives that must be balanced against those principles. Includes: international monetary, development and trade policy; customs law, legal restraints on fair and unfair international trade practices; international transfers of intellectual property rights; and the regulation of foreign investment.

International Trade Law Law 6471 (3 cr hr)
This course explores government regulation of international trade and the interaction between national, sub-national and international rules governing trade. Specific topics covered include U.S. constitutional issues regarding the regulation of trade by the U.S. federal and state governments, regulations regarding the importation of goods into the United States (e.g. classifying, valuing, and determining the origin of imported goods), barriers to U.S. exports, rules of the GATT and NAFTA that seek to eliminate or limit such barriers, U.S. unfair trade laws (i.e. laws designed to protect U.S. businesses from imports that have an “unfair” advantage), and the institutional and dispute settlement rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Students will participate in mock exercises dealing with in international trade negotiations, WTO litigation, and interagency meetings. A visitor from the Washington D.C. trade policy community may be invited to speak. Past speakers include: U.S. Senators Chuck Hagel and Ben Nelson, Congressman Doug Bereuter and the Honorable Abner Mikva. This course is available to online LLM students.

International Perspectives Law 518 (2 cr hr)
1L required course

This course is designed to help students situate their study of traditional first-year courses in an international context and to prepare for legal practice in a global legal environment. In particular, it assists students in developing an understanding of how to handle the inevitable foreign law and international law issues that can arise in the practice of virtually every area of law. The course also helps students understand the evolution of the U.S. legal system in light of other legal traditions in the world.

We begin the course with a discussion of why it is important to have a knowledge of foreign and international law and work through some specific types of problems students may encounter in their future legal practices. Then we step back and gain an overview of the major legal traditions of the world, including traditions based on the civil law, the common law, indigenous law, Islamic law, and Chinese law. We see how the U.S. legal system reflects certain characteristics of these various traditions. We also study conflict of laws rules, under which foreign law may be applied in U.S. courts.

We then turn our attention to international law. We study the major sources of international law, namely, (1) treaties, (2) customary international law, and (3) general principles of law shared by the national legal systems of the world. We then gain an introduction into how treaties and customary international law are applied in the U.S. legal system and in U.S. courts.

At this point in the course we examine some specific topical areas lawyers may work on in their practices and see how lawyers need a knowledge of both foreign and international law to help solve problems for their clients. Some of these areas include topics students have already studied in their first year of law school. In particular, we study transnational criminal law, human rights law, tort law, contract law, and civil procedure. These classes build on, and help reinforce and sharpen, the knowledge of U.S. law in these areas that students are gaining in their other first-year courses.

During the second half of the course, we focus in detail on the specific role of international treaties and other agreements in the U.S. legal system through a careful study of important U.S. cases.

Throughout the course students have the opportunity to work on simulated projects that help them develop important lawyering skills that are part of the “Build Your Character” program. These include intellectual and cognitive skills, conflict resolution skills, and skills in working with others.

Introduction to the American Legal System Law 780 (0 cr hr)
This course covers the basics of the U.S. legal system, focusing primarily on the constitutional structure and institutions of the United States, including separation of powers and federalism issues. The course will also include an introduction to the common law and case analysis. This is a non-credit course designed exclusively for students with foreign law degrees who are enrolled in the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications LL.M. program or foreign students visiting at the Law College. It is taught in August prior to the start of classes. This course is available to online Space, Cyber and Telecommunication LLM students.

American Foreign Affairs Law & Policy Seminar LAW 750/G (3 cr hr)

This seminar will explore structural/organizational issues (e.g., separation of powers, federalism) related to U.S. foreign policy-making as well as U.S. foreign policy in a number of substantive areas.  Areas of foreign policy examined include the war on terrorism, international economic policy, and current foreign policy crises. This course is available to online LL.M. students. Enrollment Limit 12


"Self-Executing International Agreements and Private Rights of Action: Revisiting the 4th Restatement of Foreign Relations Law in the Context of International Trade and Investment Agreements,"  forthcoming in Univ. of Pennsylvania J. Intl. L. (2023/24)

“The Contours of Permissionless Innovation in the Outer Space Domain,”  Univ. of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, Vol. 39, pp. 103-184 (Fall 2017).

“The Need for Federal Preemption and International Negotiations Regarding Liability Caps and Waivers of Liability in the US Commercial Space Industry,”  Vol. 33 Berkeley Journal of International Law 223-273 (2015).

“The Intersection of Insurance Markets and Liability Regimes Regarding Third-Parties and Space Flight Participants in Commercial Space Activities,”  57rd IISL Colloquia of Laws of Outer Space of the IISL (2014).

"Analogues Between Space Law And Law Of The Sea/International Maritime Law: Can Space Law Usefully Borrow Or Adapt Rules From These Other Areas Of Public International Law?,"  55th IISL Colloquia on the Law of Outer Space (2012).

"Promoting Commodity Exports Through Governor-Led Trade Missions: Governors’ Constitutionally Permissible (and WTO Permissible) Role of Exporter-in-Chief,"  Annual Proceedings of the American Society of International Law (2012).

"Constraints on State-Level Foreign Policy: (Re)Justifying, Refining and Distinguishing the Dormant Foreign Affairs Doctrine",  Seton Hall Law Review, Vol 41, pp. 201-318 (Feb. 2011).

"Lenses Through Which to View, Assess and Guide the Degree of Formalism in Space Regulation",  51st Colloquia of the International Institute of Space Law (2008).

"Ensuring that Regional Trade Agreements Complement the WTO System: US Unilateralism a Supplement to WTO Initiatives?,"  Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 10 (2007).

"The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in Canada – U.S. Relations",  Canada – U.S. Law Journal, Vol. 30, pp. 69-88 (2004).

"Government Procurement Disputes: Lessons from the Dispute Over the Massachusetts 1996 Act Regulating State Contracts with Companies Doing Business in Burma",  (Petersmann, ed.), TRANSATLANTIC ECONOMIC DISPUTES (Oxford Univ. Press 2003).

"Trade in Waste Between the United States and Canada: Environmental or Trade Issue?"  Canada-U.S. Law Journal, Vol. 28, pp. 103-114 (2002) (published speech format).

"Sovereignty, Influence, Realpolitik and the World Trade Organization",  Hastings Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 25, pp. 341-370 (2002).


International Business Transactions: A Problem-Oriented Coursebook, 13th Edition, West Publishing, 2019 (co-author with Folsom, Van Alstine & Ramsey)

Book Chapters

“What Level of Detail in National Commercial Space Legislation is Ideal for the Harmonization and Enforcement of Such Legislation and the Outer Space Treaty?,” in the 62rd INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF SPACE LAW (IISL) COLLOQUIA OF LAWS OF OUTER SPACE (2020).


"What Level of Detail in National Space Legislation is Ideal for the Harmonization and Enforcement of Such Legislation and International Space Law," International Institute of Space Law/International Astronautical Congress, Oct. 23, 2019 (Washington, D.C.)

"International Trade Primer: Top Ten Things to Know About Trade," at What’s on the Horizon for Trade? Yeutter Institute Biennial Conference, Oct. 10, 2019 (Lincoln, NE; Yeutter Institute)

"The WTO Dispute Settlement System in Crisis: National Security Tariffs, Sec. 301 China Tariffs, and Appellate Body Appointments," at Global Trade and Business Law: 2020 and Beyond Conference, Sept. 30, 2019 (Lincoln, NE; College of Law, co-sponsored by Yeutter Institute)

"The Future of Space Law," presentation to Vanderbilt Univ. Law School International Law Society (Nashville, TN)(April 12, 2019)

"A Variety of Lenses and Angles to Research and Write on Space Law," NASA Grant Research, Writing and Publication Workshop (Lincoln, NE)(April 6, 2019)

"Moderator, Space Law Career Panel, 9th Annual Galloway Space Symposium," (Washington, D.C.)(Dec. 5, 2018).

"International Trade: Navigating a Changing Landscape, Exec. Ed. Power Lunch and CLE," Univ. of Nebraska (October 25, 2018)(with Jill O’Donnell, Director, Yeutter Institute)

Discussion Leader, Government-Industry Roundtable (invite only) and co-moderator, Commercial Space Law Reform Panel 11th Annual Univ. of Nebraska D.C. Space Law Conference (Washington, D.C.)(Sept. 21, 2018)

"Trade, Tariffs and Agriculture," Current Issues in Agribusiness Annual Seminar, Kutak Rock Law Firm (Omaha)(Aug. 23, 2018)(with Jill O’Donnell, Director, Yeutter Institute)

Organizer and Moderator for 2 public panels and discussion leader government-industry roundtable 10th Annual Univ. of Nebraska Washington, D.C. Space Law Conference, "Outer Space as a Commercial Domain and Warfighting Domain: Emerging Issues In Space Law,” (Sept. 15, 2017).

Panelist/Debater, IISL 11th Annual Galloway Space Symposium, “US Domestic Policy, Law and Regulation of Space Activities (Washington, D.C.) (Dec. 8, 2016)

Monday, August 21, 2023


S.J.D., University of Michigan Law School
L.L.M., International Law, University of Michigan Law School (1993)
J.D., magna cum laude, University of Michigan Law School (1991)
Order of the Coif, University of Michigan Law School
B.A., with Honors, Economics and General Honors, University of Chicago (1987)

Areas of Expertise


Clayton Yeutter Chair, 2022
Director, Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program, 2006
Professor of Law, 2004
Associate Professor of Law, 2001
Assistant Professor of Law, 1995